Issues2004: 30 issues in 30 seconds

Issues2004: 30 issues in 30 seconds

: Fred Wilson quite properly busts me for dropping the Issues2004 ball. I dealt with the issues that mattered to me most (see the list on the right of the home page or follow this link) but intended to come back and at least touch on the rest. I didn’t. My bad. If you want a good and comprehensive discussion of many issues, see Brian Lehrer’s 30 Issues in 30 Days on WNYC). I have the time to give them only short shrift but here goes:

: Judicial appointments: Yes, Chief Justice Rhenquist having thyroid cancer brings this issue to the top of the heap. And it’s pretty obvious that judicial appointments are the biggest thorn in this tiger’s paw when it comes to thinking of voting for Bush. There are so many issues that matter to our daily lives that I do not want in the hands of a right-wing court — many having to do with strict interpretation (how’s that for spinning?) of the separation of church and state as it affects efforts to legislate one side’s morality regarding abortion, homosexuality, marriage, science, and religious freedom. This is the wisdom of the founding fathers; this is how they get us to think past just one issue. Ideology matters and it matters most for the Supreme Court. See Fred Wilson’s post today.

: The deficit: Yes, these are extraordinary times, with a downturn to deal with and a war on — and I mean the war on terrorism and Islamic fascists (take your rhetorical pick) more than just the war in Iraq. So it’s not easy to balance the budget. But we should at least try. And I don’t trust either guy on this. Bush cynically lowered taxes without responsibly cutting spending. Kerry has not made clear how he’ll pay for his promises. We need responsible budgeting especially now that we are intertwined with the world economy and we, the voters, need to start demanding it.

: Gay rights: For them. Period.

: Death penalty: Against it. Period.

: Freedom of speech: For it. Absolutely.

: Abortion rights: Leave it the way it is.

: Stem-cell research: It’s not abortion and efforts to tie this research to the abortion fight are cynical and ultimately destructive of important science that can save lives. Supporting this research is very much about maintaining a culture of life.

: Social Security: This isn’t a simple one-liner (well, none of them is). We need to reexamine what our national goal is: If it is to maintain a national pension scheme, then, yes, I see sense in allowing us to invest our own. If, on the other hand, it is to assure a safety net for our elders, which I certainly support, then we need to look at this as a tax funding an entitlement. We’re trying to mix the two now. This potato is too hot for any politician to handle. And so I say give it to the 9/11 Commission. No, I’m serious: Take a bunch of respected political yesterdays and make them grapple with it and come to consensus and fight for it so the politicians can blame them.

: Immigration: I don’t believe the rest of the world has an inalienable right to come here (hell, Canada gave me trouble about moving there once). That’s the way the world works. I also find efforts to give noncitizens local voting rights ridiculous; citizenship means something, damnit. Further, immigration is a security issue these days. So I’m not the most open regarding immigration and believe it is OK to judge immigration on two scales: humanity (allowing refugees to come, keeping families together) and self-interest (bringing in smart technicians and students is good for America). I also think we can’t keep on giving amnesties and neverminds, for then our immigration laws become meaningless. If the laws don’t work — and in many ways, they don’t — then we need to fix them and not work around them.

: Israel: I support Israel and its right to be a nation. Yes, I believe the world has a special obligation to assure the security of Jews after everything that happened in the last century. Though I may sympathize with the Palestinians’ right to have a nation, I abhor their tactics of terrorism — especially today — and so I do not believe we should deal with them until they stop murder for political gain.

: Gun control: The founding fathers didn’t say which arms. Yes, we must have controls on certain people and certain weapons and you can scream at me all day long — don’t bother — I will still say this. I am a First Amendment absolutist but I do think we can restrict people from yelling “fire” in a crowded theater or jeopardizing troops in war by giving their positions. Similarly, I understand the right granted by the Second Amendment but believe any reasonable soul has to agree that keeping weapons out of the hands of nuts and restricting weapons intended only for murder on a large scale is necessary. All others belong to the NRA.

: Trade: We’re part of the world and need to have open trade. There isn’t a lot of choice about that these days.

: The environment: Yes, it matters. But I also see too much thrown in under this PC tent. In my town, building ball fields becomes an environmental issue. I like the environment more than I like environmentalists.

: The draft and national service: No. Serving our country has many definitions and working for government, armed or unarmed, is only one of them.

So that’s my list. It’s short shrift, as I said, but in the interest of continuing the Issues2004 discussion…. join in….

  • notanut

    I’m very glad to see you’ve come out in favor of concealed-carry by law-abiding citizens!

  • jeff, me and you certainly think alike in many areas. but i’d like to point a few things out re: israel.
    you write, “Yes, I believe the world has a special obligation to assure the security of Jews after everything that happened in the last century.”
    first off, i think its very important to mention that the last century hardly covers the history of anti-semitism, particularly in europe. the holocaust was not an exclusive event, rather it represented the culmination of hatred throughout europe towards the jews over the previous 2,000 years. here is a list of countries and periods where jews were expelled throughout the past millenium:
    of course there was the spanish inquisition, which began in the 15th century and lasted three hundred years:
    here’s more on the expulsion of jews from france in the 1300’s:
    the list really is endless.
    second point:
    the world never ever decided to do much to “assure the security of the jews”. yes, the United Nations passed the partition plan of 1947, enabling the jewish people to create a state of israel. but that was it! the partition plan was refused by the arab nations, and a bloody war erupted immediately after israel declared independence. how many arab armies converged on the newborn state of israel in order to destroy it? israel lost up to 1% of its entire population during its war of independence. that number is huge. there were absolutely no armies coming in to protect them, the jews were left to fend for themselves. anyway, i could go on for much longer, but i think i’ve said enough. but i give absolutely no credit whatsoever to the ‘world community” as a whole for doing anything to assure the security of the Jews.

  • Here’s the issue breakdown I posted in July.
    Re: Guns.
    The debate over the second amendment is vital because of its role in exposing the intellectual dishonesty of most liberals.
    If we were left simply with the National Firearms Act in place (which strictly regulated owndership of AUTOMATIC WEAPONS in the 1930s) I could probably deal with it.
    However, I think the point you are making about “murder on a large scale” is more about the so called assault weapons ban. The AWB has been debated in depth before, but if you still think a semi automitic is the same as a machine gun, then nothing I say here will educate you.
    My bigger concern with the continued erosion of second amendment rights is what they portend for other rights. You see, as I discussed here, an infringment upon a fundamental right must meet the strict scrutiny test – that means a firearm law must be supported by not only a compelling state interest, but that the means chosen to address that interest are narrowly tailored and do not burden the Republic with an overbroad scheme. This is the same test that is used to protect other pressing liberal issues such as gay rights (and marriage), affirmative action, freedom of speech, etc etc etc. My question to anyone who supports gun control (and the AWB) is how do you justify it under the Strict Scrutiny analysis that is applied to a fundamental constitutional right? If you are willing to make exemptions for some constitutional rights, what kind of precedent does that set for other future actions – be they 20, 50 or 100 years down the road. Sorry, nuance just doesn’t cut it.

  • Jeff-
    Several groups have already agreed that Social Security is fiscally in trouble and have recommended various schemes for privatization and means testing.
    We know what needs to be done. We just need politicians willing to do it.

  • AvatarADV

    I personally interpreted Mr. Jarvis’ gun control comment as rejecting the ludicrous-absolutist position… “Well, if anything is okay, then why can’t I have a nuclear weapon/MLRS/main battle tank?”
    I think most 2nd Amendment supporters hold a similar position – the right to bear arms doesn’t necessarily include private armies, and a ban on full-auto weapons for civilians is probably okay. Anything short of that, no.
    Of course, if I’m wrong, I would appreciate hearing the specific details of Mr. Jarvis’ position on this issue. I think these issues posts have been quite educational, and certainly serve to elevate the level of our political discussion this year, the occasional troll aside.

  • “…and so I do not believe we should deal with them until they stop murder for political gain.”
    Who are we talking about here? I’m a bit confused.

  • I love this series. Glad to see it back. Doing a quick draw session on multiple issues is a great idea and a fun game. I’m going to play on my site and collect sets of answers from readers to contrast and compare also. Keep it up, Jeff. It’s good to see somebody talking about something besides Vietnam and lesbians.

  • Social Security is easy. Scrap it. Privatize it.
    The government should pay everybody what they put into it, and let individuals decide what to do with it. Just think how much better the economy would be if everyone had all the money to invest in what they wanted to.
    I know there’s not enough money to go around, but there has be a way to get out from under this government created monstrosity.

  • I generally agree with the comments on immigration, but I’ll add that the problem is not so much that the laws don’t work, it’s that the laws are not enforced. Under Bush, fines against companies that employ illegal aliens has fallen sharply. That helps explain why thousands of illegal aliens stream across our borders each day.
    See the following for my coverage:

  • sbw

    You missed: Jobs
    Jobs are the best approach to welfare, health care and social security. Overregulation and taxes drag job creation and pay increases down. If you think outsourcing is the problem, you’re gullible, since less than three percent of jobs have been lost to it and even that fails to take into account insourcing. Structural change because of increased productivity is by far the largest problem (which Bush didn’t cause) so retraining is key to recycling the jobless.

  • Michael

    “I am a First Amendment absolutist but I do think we can restrict people from yelling “fire” in a crowded theater or jeopardizing troops in war by giving their positions.”
    Then you are not a First Amendment absolutist.

  • Regarding jobs, here are three key facts to keep in mind about Bush’s guest worker program:
    1. It would be open to the world
    2. It would be “non-sector specific” and could include “nurses, teachers, high-tech workers” and more.
    3. The only wage-related restriction would be the minimum wage.
    All the tax cuts in the world aren’t going to help if millions of people are reduced to doing minimum wage jobs.
    Details here.

  • oscist

    “: Death penalty: Against it. Period.
    : Abortion rights: Leave it the way it is.”

  • Andy Freeman

    What distinguishes “weapon intended only for murder” from any other weapon? How do I know what the designer of the AK-47 intended? Or, is someone else’s intent relevant?
    I note that murder and justifiable homicide occur in precisely the same place, often using exactly the same weapon. What weapon characteristic makes the necessary distinction between attacker and attacked?

  • Andy Freeman

    > any reasonable soul has to agree that keeping weapons out of the hands of nuts
    That’s nice, but unless accompanied by opposition to measures that don’t accomplish that noble goal….
    Here’s a test for Jarvis – jump through the hoops to acquire a gun legally in NJ. Notice that it would have been much easier to get a gun illegally. Ask whether the legal hoops actually do any good. Hint: disarming folks like Jarvis has no benefits and some costs.

  • One thing about immigration and trade, to be honest I would rather people such as (indian’s) immigrate here rather than stay over in india. The US economy is losing momentium every day due to the shift in money (out-sourcing). If I would be worried about anything, it would be a shift in economy momentium; indians already outnumber americans (by a large number). I don’t see any good in transfering our US economy to an even larger nation, if the USA wants to be the worlds number 1 power this is NEVER a good idea. How do we solve this? Open america’s borders GAPING wide, such that all indians now have to live under american law, taxes, ideology, ect. Indians cannot charge 1/4 the price of an american job when they are living in america.. It is nearly impossible. Not only that america will be again favored by the world because of the open-ness. It is not like we don’t have the space to support a population such as india.

  • sbw

    Jeff, I’ll see your positions, and raise you mine: